mark b. brown '78
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I oversee the humanitarian work of the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. This includes Augusta Victoria Hospital, vocational training centers, village health clinics, a scholarship program, and humanitarian supplies distribution. In addition, the LWF Representative is responsible for preserving and developing the LWF Mount of Olives property.
What has been your career path to date?
After seminary I served in the Middle East as a missionary, working as a teacher, pastor, and human rights advocate. For thirteen years I worked in Washington, DC, at the ELCA's public policy office in the areas of international affairs and human rights. From Washington I returned to Jerusalem as an administrator to lead the LWF's humanitarian work in Jerusalem. My journey as a pastor may not be typical, but it has been challenging and rich with opportunities to serve and witness to God's love.
Which country(ies) has your work taken you to?
Middle East, Israel
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
My interest in working internationally, and especially in the Middle East, was prompted by my participation in the 1976-77 Saint Olaf Term in the Middle East. During seminary I accepted an internship assignment in Cairo, Egypt. After returning to seminary for my senior year I continued studies of the Middle East (Islam, Arabic, the Ancient Churches, Christian-Muslim dialogue) and prepared to return to the Middle East through the ALC's global mission department.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
Clearly my experiences during the Term in the Middle East opened me up to the possibility of living and working internationally.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
I happen to work in a place where conflict, human rights abuses, and poverty take a tremendous toll on people every day. It is a huge challenge some days to be hopeful that the situation will change for the better.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
It has been an inspiration to work alongside amazingly committed people determined to struggle for peace and justice despite the personal sacrifices and risks.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
Being a global citizen is essentially living and behaving in a way that recognizes the interdependence of people locally and around the world. Whether it is the suffering of one hungry child or the oppression of an entire people, we all are affected. A global citizen learns about other cultures, advocates for equality, and seeks ways to cooperate with others in the promotion of the common good.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
Learn one or two or three languages really well. Use every opportunity on campus to get to know (and show hospitality to) international students and let them teach and sensitize you to the issues, dreams, frustrations, challenges that they face in their home countries. Know your own country's traditions, history, successes and failures, current policies and the impact they have on other nations. Expect to be challenged.
Mark@LWFJerusalem.org tel. 011-972-2-628-2289 Lutheran World Federation P.O. Box 19178 Jerusalem 91191 Israel